Detection of etiological agents of malaria in howler monkeys from Atlantic Forests, rescued in regions of São Paulo city, Brazil

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In some states of the Brazilian extra-Amazonian region, such as the Atlantic Forest area, autochthonous human cases of malaria were related to simian malarias and vice versa.


To verify the presence of Plasmodium, 50 blood samples of howler monkeys (Alouatta guariba clamitans) rescued from the Metropolitan Region of Saõ Paulo city, where the Atlantic Forest is present, were analyzed. The samples were submitted to microscopy (thin and thick blood smears), enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA), indirect immunofluorescent assay (IFA), and polymerase chain reaction (PCR).


Only one smear showed forms reminiscent of Plasmodium vivax. In ELISA, the frequencies of antibodies against synthetic peptides corresponding to circumsporozoite protein of P. vivax VK210 ‘classic’ (Pvc), P. vivax VK247, human P. vivax-like (Pvk and Pvl), P. malariae/P. brasilianum (Pm), and P. falciparum (Pf) were 24.0% (12/50) for Pvc, 8.0% (04/50) for Pvk, 6.0% (03/50) for Pvl, 24.0% (12/50) for Pm, and 28.0% (14/50) for Pf, while the frequency of antibodies against PvMSP119 recombinant proteins was 42.0% (21/50). No serum reacted against PfMSP1-19. In IFA,the seropositivity of antibodies against asexual forms of P. malariae was 31.3% (15/48). We utilized three PCR protocols to develop a molecular consensus (positive results in, at least, two protocols). The frequency of Plasmodium infections detected by PCR was 18.0% (09/50) for P. vivax, 4.0% (02/50) for P. malariae, and 76.0% (38/50) of samples were negative. The molecular consensus was not seen in 4.0% (02/50) of samples.


These results suggest that a possible interaction between human and simian malaria coming from a zoonotic cycle cannot be discarded because simians that live in the areas of the Atlantic Forest could play a role as a reservoir for Plasmodium.

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